Venice and Telluride Open the Season

Edoardo De Angelis’s Comandante (2023)

Luca Guadagnino and the hot cast of Challengers were supposed to have launched this year’s fall festival season on Wednesday. When SAG-AFTRA went on strike, though, and MGM realized that Zendaya, Josh O’Connor, and Mike Faist would not be promoting the film on the opening day of the Venice International Film Festival, the studio pulled the film from the lineup and rescheduled its release for next April.

Scrambling for a replacement, Venice artistic director Alberto Barbera and his team decided to go with another, albeit far lesser known, Italian director, Edoardo De Angelis (Indivisible, The Vice of Hope). Premiering in competition, Comandante stars Pierfrancesco Favino (The Traitor, Nostalgia) as Salvatore Todaro, the real-life Second World War submarine commander who disobeyed the orders of his fascist government when he risked the lives of his crew—and of course, his own life as well—in order to save the Belgian sailors blown off the ship he’d just sunk.

In the Guardian, Catherine Bray finds that “if you’re prepared to ignore that boring little voice in your head that insists on whispering ‘is this film using a historical case study of one cuddly outlier to launder the wartime reputation of the Italian navy?,’ there’s much to enjoy here. De Angelis offers some muscular filmmaking, with decent action sequences.” And in the Hollywood Reporter, Jordan Mintzer suggests that the “message De Angelis seems to be relaying to his fellow countrymen (it’s unlikely the film will see much international play) is one of universal humanism, especially at a time when African migrants are tragically drowning off of Italy’s shores.”

Through September 9, Venice’s eightieth edition will present the world premieres of several of the season’s most anticipated titles, many of which will then head to Toronto (September 7 through 17), New York (September 29 through October 15), and London (October 4 through 15). The Guardian’s Peter Bradshaw, the New York Times’s Kyle Buchanan, AnOther’s Alex Denney, Vulture’s Bilge Ebiri, the Hollywood Reporter’s David Rooney, and the staffs at the Film Stage, IndieWire, and the Playlist have been drawing up lists of the films they’re looking forward to most.

At Cineuropa, Vittoria Scarpa focuses Orizzonti, the program that serves as a rough equivalent to Un Certain Regard in Cannes, and Camillo De Marco interviews Beatrice Fiorentino, who oversees Venice International Film Critics’ Week. Guadagnino, in the meantime, will be all over Venice, talking up two films he’s coproducing—Pietro Castellitto’s first feature as a director, Enea, and Margherita Giusti’s animated short, The Meatseller—and accepting a lifetime achievement award during the Giornate degli Autori, the independent program modeled on the Directors’ Fortnight in Cannes.

Venice will not be turning a blind eye to the world beyond the Lido. On Saturday, the festival will stage a flash mob in support of Saeed Roustayi, the Iranian director sentenced to six months in prison for presenting Leila’s Brothers at Cannes last year, and on Wednesday, Venice will host what it’s calling Ukrainian Day in order to reaffirm its “solidarity with the Ukrainian people and the tragedy they are experiencing.” The WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes will, of course, also be ever-present in the minds of attendees. On Wednesday, jury president Damien Chazelle showed up at the afternoon press conference with a shirt and a lapel button bearing an unambiguous declaration: “Writers Guild on Strike!”

Stateside, the Telluride Film Festival opens today and runs through the Labor Day weekend. IndieWire’s Anne Thompson and the Los Angeles Times’s Glenn Whipp talk with festival director Julie Huntsinger about a few of this year’s world premieres, including Andrew Haigh’s All of Us Strangers, Emerald Fennell’s Saltburn, and George C. Wolfe’s Rustin. There will be tributes to Yorgos Lanthimos (Poor Things), Alice Rohrwacher (La chimera), and Wim Wenders, whose Perfect Days will open the thirty-sixth Tokyo International Film Festival (October 23 through November 1).

One of Telluride’s highlights each year is the program put together by a guest director, and this year, to mark the festival’s fiftieth anniversary, six past guests have been tapped once again to make one more selection: Alfonso Cuarón (Alain Tanner’s Jonah Who Will Be 25 in the Year 2000, 1976), Adam Curtis (John Mackenzie’s The Long Good Friday, 1980), Ethan Hawke (Bob Fosse’s All That Jazz, 1979), Rachel Kushner (Frederick Wiseman’s Juvenile Court, 1973), Steve McQueen (Jean Vigo’s Zéro de conduite, 1933), and Mira Nair (Satyajit Ray’s The Music Room, 1958).

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